Nautilus

You Can Have Emotions You Don’t Feel

What does it mean to have an emotion? It seems obvious that having one means feeling it. If you’re happy but don’t know it, in what sense could you actually be happy?

Such reasoning seemed sound to William James. Conscious feeling, he thought, was precisely what distinguished the emotions from other mental states, like desire. Without conscious feeling, he wrote, “We find that we have nothing left behind, no ‘mind-stuff’ out of which the: “It is surely of the essence of an emotion,” he wrote, “that we should feel it, i.e. that it should enter consciousness.” 

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